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Galaxy S6 Edge Succeeds Despite Price

NEW YORK – Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge is selling surprisingly well even though it’s more expensive than its S6 counterpart and isn’t available at retail in as many memory- capacity variations, analysts and retailers said.

The Edge is the industry’s first smartphone with curved display running along both sides of the main display. Quick-access app icons and information appear on each edge-side display.

The S6 Edge and standard S6 went on sale in early April.

The Edge ranges in price without contract from an average of around $800 for the 32GB version to more than $1,000 for the 128GB version, Gap Intelligence found in surveying product placements at retail. In contrast, the S6, which features a single flat display, runs from an average of around $700 for the 32GB version to less than $900 for the 128GB version. Neither phone features a memory-expansion slot. (See table showing the full price of the phones without contract, subsidized price with two-year contract, and monthly price on a 24-month installment payment plan.)

As for retail visibility, fewer variations of the Edge are available in stores compared to the standard S6, Gap said. The S6 enjoys 35 placements in AT&T, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Sprint, Staples, T-Mobile, Target, Verizon and Walmart, while the Edge enjoys 29, Gap found. A placement is defined as a unique SKU at one retail account, so if a chain stocks the Verizon, Sprint and AT&T versions of the 32GB S6, that counts as three placements, Gap explained.

“Value-driven mass-merchants and Costco not currently pitching the 64GB Edge variant in-stores, indicating some uncertainty as to the utility of the dual-sided display and their ability to translate that to more novice shoppers,” said Gap smartphone analyst Scott Peterson.

As for sell-through, one major retailer said, “I believe the Edge surprised Samsung a bit.” Added Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics, “The S6 Edge is selling out because of a combination of higher-thanexpected demand and restricted curved-screen supply.”

Installment-payment plans may be helping the Edge and the higher priced 64GB and 128GB versions of the standard S6, Peterson noted. “The general $100 price jump between different Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge models is definitely on shoppers’ minds while weighing the option of curved glass and different levels of onboard memory,” he said. “However, installment-billing options have leveled the playing field for those on the fence regarding a step-up, with the full range of Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge devices offered from $42 and below per month on [any carrier’s 24-month payment option].”

Installment payments are “perhaps leading to more step-up conversions for the higher end devices in stores equipped to handle this,” Peterson continued.

Nonetheless, he noted, the Edge’s appeal is narrower than the appeal of more traditional flagship phones such as the S6. “While Gap Intelligence does not track sellthrough performance or specific supply-chain information, we do have a full array of pricing and retail assortment data for smartphones,” he said. “From this, as well as from our in-store visits and data collection, my overall perception of Edge’s popularity is that it hinges upon the interest of tech-enthusiasts and status-seekers more than a standard upgrade shopper, which can be seen observing its progress in the channel thus far.”

As for how well the S6 family is doing or will do compared to the S5, opinions are mixed.

One major retailer said the S6 and S6 Edge combined “have not sold as well out of the chute as their predecessor.” The Edge is “outselling projections, while the standard S6 has been disappointing,” he said.

The major reason, he contended, “is that Apple’s iPhone 6 has so much momentum invading the larger screen space of Samsung that it has blunted the launch.” Talk shows, he noted, were talking about the Apple Watch when the two Galaxy phones launched. “Brilliant,” he said.

For his part, Mawston of Strategy Analytics expects the S6 and S6 Edge together this year in the U.S. should outsell the S5 range last year, though for now, the regular S6 is selling” broadly in line” with the S5 in the U.S and worldwide, he said.

For its part, Samsung has said the S6 is on pace globally to outsell the S5, whose sales, however, widely missed company projections, analysts said.